Staff vote of no confidence at City of Liverpool College

University and College Union members at City of Liverpool College have passed a unanimous vote of no confidence in the college's leadership

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Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at City of Liverpool College have passed a unanimous vote of no confidence in its principal and chair of governors, after the college was placed into administered status by apprenticeships and skills minister Robert Halfon.

In a letter to the chair of the college’s board, sent on Wednesday, Mr Halfon wrote that the college would be placed in administered college status with immediate effect after failing to deliver sustained improvement “over a prolonged period” and being the first FE college to be re-referred to FE commissioner Sir David Collins.

Mr Halfon wrote: “I am extremely concerned by the college’s response since that letter was written. Rather than focusing on securing improvement, you have sought to challenge the commissioner process and spent college funds on engaging lawyers; notwithstanding that the government has provided £2 million of Exceptional Financial Support to the college as a result of its failures of financial management this year. As a result, the recent stocktake could not be completed – the first time this has occurred in any college since the intervention process was established in 2013."

He added: “In considering the college’s position, my priority must be the needs of the young people and adult learners in Liverpool…Since 2011 around 100,000 students have studied at the college and the provision it has offered has not been good enough. This failure cannot be allowed to continue."

The UCU said its members at City of Liverpool College “had worked hard to improve provision at the college and ensure the best possible experience for students, but had been let down by poor leadership and financial mismanagement at the top”.

UCU regional official Martyn Moss said: "This vote of no confidence highlights the level of anger and disillusionment amongst college staff. Despite their best efforts to improve provision and ensure the best possible student experience, members feel they have been let down by poor leadership and serious financial mismanagement.

"The college management now needs to work hard to address its failings, put the college back on an even financial footing, and regain the trust of its hardworking staff."

'We've made progress'

Peter Grieve, chair of the board of the City of Liverpool College, said: “It is important to emphasise that this will not affect day-to-day operations or impact on students or the quality of the education they receive.

“We are disappointed in the government’s decision, given the progress which has been made, especially when one considers our progress against the backdrop of an £8 million funding cut last year.     

“We would like to clarify that we have not spent public money on legal fees on this issue and reassure our students, staff and stakeholders that in 2016-17 the college will deliver a £2.9 million surplus and regain a financial rating of ‘good’, according to funding agency guidelines.

“Outcomes for students continue to improve, with achievement rates for young people and adults now above national averages following a three-year improvement trend, including significant improvements in English and maths and achievement rates of apprenticeships."

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